Airports can be places of stress, heartache, and panic. There's that nagging worry that you might miss a flight; the sadness of saying goodbye to a loved one, whether it's a relative going back home or a friend going off to war; and the anxiety of setting foot on a plane at all in this era of terrorist attacks.
But airports are also places of anticipation, love, hope, and beauty. They're the place where a college student flys off to study abroad and expand his or her horizons; a new mother brings her child to meet his or her grandparents for the first time; a young couple in love sneaks off for a romantic weekend; and, during the holidays especially, families and loved ones reunite.
No matter why you find yourself at an airport, chances are you’ll want to satisfy your hunger, whether it's a to-go sandwich you grab on the way to seat 17A or a leisurely dinner while you're waiting for that delayed flight to hit the tarmac. The food available at airports used to be relatively grim (with the occasional rare exception, like the legendary Joe Baum's Newarker), but in recent years, the airport dining scene has improved greatly. More and more high-quality airport restaurants are opening around the world. Some are run by celebrity chefs, some are outposts of beloved local chains, some are imaginative stand-alones — but whatever their story, we’ve ranked the 35 best in the world.
To compile this list in part, we surveyed existing rankings, like those of the Travel Channel, CNN, and Conde Nast Traveler. We also reached out to a selection of well-traveled chefs and food writers and polled our own well-traveled editors, narrowing a long "short list" of 110 establishments down to 35.
A number of the places we hailed in our 2013 piece on the subject are here again, and some have dropped off the list. Airport restaurants tend to open and close relatively quickly, whether due to business issues or terminal redesign, so we had to rework our list several times to accommodate closings — like that of one of our favorites, Kogi Truck at Los Angeles International Airport.
Just like passengers, restaurants arrive as well as depart. New arrivals this year include Sushi Kyotatsu in Narita International Airport. Read on to learn where they placed.